Campaigners continue fight to restore GP services despite latest blow

Campaigners say they are 'very disappointed' after news the practices will not be reopening.

Campaigners continue fight to restore GP services in Moray despite latest blow LDRS

Campaigners aiming to reinstate GP services in coastal communities have vowed to fight on despite a blow to their efforts.

Save Our Surgeries Burghead and Hopeman want medical provision available in their towns after centres failed to reopen after the Covid pandemic.

Branch surgeries were operated by Lossiemouth based Moray Coast Medical Practice.

But the health centre has said it will not reopen them.

Now the practice has given notice to the landlord of the Burghead premises that it will terminate its lease on December 31.

And they have formally told Health and Social Care Moray they have no intention of opening the surgery in Hopeman.

The issue went before members of the Moray Integration Joint Board on Thursday.

However when asked if the move meant the death knell for the campaign, group member Dennis Slater said: “No. We’re going to keep going.

He said the move was “very disappointing” as the group recently held positive discussions with Health and Social Care Moray chief officer Simon Bokor-Ingram.

Campaigners have also discussed their issues with Cabinet Secretary for Health and Social Care Michael Matheson, who Mr Slater felt listened to their concerns.

He said “We came away from that thinking that was constructive.

“And we felt we’d gained something. But now this.

“Their building in Hopeman used to be the Gospel Hall.

“And if they’re going to sell it the money should go to the community.

“Considering what they’ve put the community through by closing the branch surgeries, surely it would be the decent thing to do.”

Fellow campaigner Liz McKnockiter watched the meeting from her home in Burghead.

She said: “It’s an absolute farce. I’m disappointed but not surprised.

“Our next steps will be keeping the pressure on. And continuing discussions with NHS Grampian, Health and Social Care Moray and the cabinet secretary.”

The Save Our Surgeries group protested outside Moray Council headquarters in May and June over the closures.

Burghead and Hopeman branch surgeries shut in March 2020 because of the pandemic and never reopened.

Moray Coast Practice is not prepared to staff the centres, which do not meet health care standards.

Patients from the coastal communities now have to attend appointments in Lossiemouth.

But there is no direct bus service, and some people face long bus journeys getting to and from the health centre.

A £170,000 refurbishment of the Laich Dental Suite at the Lossiemouth practice is proposed to help deal with patients who would have been seen in the branch surgeries.

It was estimated to take about £116,000 to upgrade the Burghead premises and £142,000 to fix issues at Hopeman, not including VAT.

A combined total of 114 patients were seen at the branch surgeries every week.

A public consultation on the closures received 650 responses.

And about 75% of those were against shutting the centres.

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